Talking about "Rwanda's stunning new genocide museum" Cain describes an
installation - a reproduction of the infamous fax by the UN Force Commander, General Romeo Dallaire, imploring the then head of UN peacekeeping, Kofi Annan, for authority to defend Rwandan civilians - many of whom had taken refuge in UN compounds under implicit and sometimes explicit promises of protection.Later Cain argues that
Here, too, is Annan's faxed response - ordering Dallaire to defend only the UN's image of impartiality, forbidding him to protect desperate civilians waiting to die. Next, it details the withdrawal of UN troops, even while blood flowed and the assassins reigned, leaving 800,000 Rwandans to their fate.
The museum's silent juxtaposition of personal courage versus Annan's passive capitulation to evil is an effective reminder of what is at stake in the debate over Annan's future: when the UN fails, innocent people die. Under Annan, the UN has failed and people have died.
the American neoconservative right has occupied the moral high ground in critique of Annan, outflanking the left, which sits on indefensible territory in his support. But if prevention of genocide and protection of the vulnerable are not core priorities on the left, then what is? If anyone's values have been betrayed, it is those of us on the left who believe most deeply in the organisation's ideals. I am mystified by the reluctance of the left both in the US and the UK (the Guardian 's coverage, for example) to criticise Annan's leadership. The bodies burn today in Darfur - and the women are raped - amid the sound of silence from Annan. How many genocides, the prevention of which is the UN's very raison d'être, will we endure before the left is moved to criticise Annan? Shouldn't we be hearing the left screaming bloody murder about the UN's failure to protect vulnerable Africans? Has it lost its compass so badly that it purports to excuse the rape of Congolese women by UN peacekeepers under Annan's watch? Is stealing money intended for widows and orphans in Iraq merely a forgivable bureaucratic snafu?Let's repeat Cain's comment that
when the UN fails, innocent people die. Under Annan, the UN has failed and people have died.It's time to change the structure, the purpose and the actions of the United Nations.
It's time to have a United Nations that saves lives.
It's time to have a United Nations that educates.
It's time to have a United Nations that feeds.
It's time to have a United Nations that works.